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From Newcomer to Competitor

The Journey of Joining the U of M Competition Team

By Alexzandra Enger

I’ll admit that I haven’t been in the ballroom community for very long—six months, to be more precise. I knew pretty early on that it’d be a lifelong addiction, but I hadn’t anticipated that it would consume me so fully.

This past summer, in preparation for my first semester at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, I spent a lot of time perusing the university’s web pages, one of which was the sports club list, and stumbled rather magically across the University of Minnesota Ballroom Dance Club. During the first few days of classes, I decided to forgo the many other freshman initiation events and instead found my way to Fall into Dance, the event hosted by the Ballroom Dance Club, and learned the basics of cha cha and waltz. It was easily one of the best choices I could have made and was the first step on a long journey that has, thus far, brought me to the competition team and hopefully will lead me much further.

I missed the fall competition team tryouts, and it took me less than a week to regret failing to rearrange my schedule to make it work. I went through Club that semester knowing that I wanted to make it onto the comp team in the spring and did everything I could to prepare; I focused during club lessons, danced mixed-proficiency at Minnesota Ballroom Blast in October, went social dancing whenever I could, and always took my competition team friends up on their offers to work with me. When I went home for winter break, I did drills on my hardwood floors. I came back to campus a week earlier than I had initially planned and dove straight back into my familiar dance routine.

The week before tryouts was particularly intense. The comp team lessons on Tuesday and Thursday of that week were open to anyone who wished to try out, so of course I went, and I’m fairly certain I danced with my friends every day that I wasn’t at Club. My excitement levels were through the roof; all anyone had to do was mention tryouts, comp team, or ballroom, and I’d be bouncing up and down in my chair while making unintelligible vocalizations of enthusiasm.

When the day of tryouts arrived, I focused on channeling any nervousness into excitement. My classes passed by in a blur, and I took extra care to have my hair perfectly slicked back into a bun; I didn’t want a single hair to be out of place for my first lesson with the much revered (and healthily feared) coach of the competition team. I was oddly calm throughout the lesson.

Instead of sleeping in the next morning like the typical college student, I woke up promptly at 8:00 and waited; BDC president Joel Torgeson had said he’d call with news between 9:00 and 10:00, and I wanted to be ready. Sure enough, shortly after 9:00, my phone began buzzing in my lap. I stared at it nervously for a moment, but anticipation got the best of me and I answered. The news was very good, and I’m fairly certain my elation was palpable through the phone. As soon as I got off the phone, I rushed to tell my friends.

Now that I’m officially a member of the competition team, snazzy team jacket and all, my goals are to work as hard as I can to improve my dancing; maintain the joy, motivation, and excitement for ballroom dance that made me want to join the team; and of course to have as much fun as I possibly can.

I know I’ll have to work harder than ever before to become a better dancer, but I have no doubt that I’ll enjoy the process immensely.